Monday, January 2, 2012

Deathrays and the garage home-brewer

In days past home-brewers would often be at the forefront of new and developing technologies. Apple Computer got their start in a suburban garage, Marie Curie refined radium in little more than a garden shed and the founders of Hewlett Packard worked out of a home garage in Palo Alto.

Unfortunately we moved away from encouraging kids to "tinker" in the garage and instead we've supplied ready made entertainment in the way of game consoles, demographically targeted TV and an endless series of extra-curricula activities ... all ultimately aimed at preventing boredom and keeping kids busy.

To see some impressive tinkering, take a look at this great build from Its certainly something that could be dangerous if used incorrectly but the assumption that something is unsafe unless proved otherwise and the knowledge to know the difference is sometimes better that relying on a commercial manufacturer's assurance that everything is ok ... because sometimes it isn't.

X-Ray Machine from
I don't think well raised kids will take to the streets in rampaging mobs if they are allowed to become 'bored' and I think there is the possibility that through their inventiveness they will discover and create things we haven't even imagined. Given the tools, basic education & a measure of respect we could see more garage pioneers in the coming years. While I understand the value of robot kits and 'following directions' I am more enthusiastic about the Maker movement and the great selection of micro-controllers and electronic building blocks they have created.

Looking through a hard-drive using the X-Ray source